Archive for August, 2012

East Greenland Expedition

As Mark and I sit in traffic in San Francisco on a Greyhound bus, it’s easy to feel like the 15 days that we just spend in East Greenland were nothing more than a fantastic dream, and yet we know that as we glance out the window at the Home Depot and Target signs, that in East Greenland children are fishing from a bridge, women are using traditional knives to cut up seal meat and dogs are lounging around in the sun, waiting for the weather to cool and the dog sleds to come out.

This was Greenland or Bust’s first commercial expedition, and Mark, Martin and I guided five eager paddlers around the Ammassalik region.

Mark, Martin and I consider our options before launching to determine the best route for the most current weather forecast.

We encountered some very large icebergs as we left the harbor.

This iceberg reminded me of an image from Where the Wild Things Are.

Before settling into our tents on the first night, we talked about polar bears and necessary precautions.

Just one of our fantastic campsites. We stayed somewhere new every night as we explored the region.

An incredible sunset.

Paddling in ice.


More ice.

And still more ice. At times it was difficult to find a route through.

Mark and I enjoying a view.

We visited several abandoned settlements. Here an old grave sits undisturbed.

An earth house. It was common for multiple families to share these houses to keep warm in the often harsh environment.

We also visited a few “active” villages. Here a woman prepares a freshly caught seal.

A gorgeous view from Tiniteqilaq.

Mark finds a ride at the abandoned U.S. Air Force Base, which was used in World War II.

An Arctic Ptarmigan has made the Base its home.

A very old dump holds modern treasures such as first edition Coca Cola bottles.

We camped next to an active glacier. Every so often the glacier would drop large chunks of ice into the water, which would create waves. For this reason the kayaks had to be carried very high up the steep hillside to prevent them from washing away.

Glacier watching from the safety of the hillside.

Beer that we purchased in a small village proved to be a refreshing treat to accompany the surprisingly tasty dehydrated meals that filled our bellies every evening.

Sarah surprised us by baking cakes on her camping stove a couple of evenings. Here she uses a hut as her kitchen.

We didn’t stay in the hut long though… not with this stunning double rainbow outside.

We stopped paddling mid-day to visit with this fin whale skeleton before continuing on.

Of course there were alive whales as well. Here a humpback whale swims along in front of Martin and Dave.

Greenland has a fairly big tidal range, so during short land excursions we’d link the kayaks together using towlines and attach them to onshore rocks. At night the kayaks were always brought above the high tide line and were often secured by towlines even then (always a good idea in case of waves created by rolling, collapsing or exploding icebergs).

Back in Tasiilaq we enjoyed the museum, complete with a traditional kayak.

Outside the museum an Umiak and Greenland Rope Gymnastics were on display.

I made friends with a puppy that will later become a sled dog. Puppies roam the villages freely, while adults are chained except when working. All of the dogs are considered working animals and not pets.

The kayak club in Tasiilaq.

A nice change from dehydrated dinners.

A hired boat ride to the airport.

Happy campers back in Iceland.

Pictures by Helen and Mark.

September Newsletter

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012

Last week saw the end of our 2012 Nordic Tour, and Mark and I made our way back across the Atlantic to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, Utah. We were there representing Tahe Marine / Zegul, and it was wonderful to catch up with owner Janek Pohla and export manager Rauno Kuus. Both had come from Tahe headquarters in Estonia, and this was the first time any of us had attended the show.

The beach scene.

The first day of the show took place at Jordanelle State Park. Booths lined the shores, and there were lots of kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards to demo. We were surprised to see that SUPs seemed to dominate the scene, with several SUPs on the water for each kayak or canoe. Other booths had lots to buy, lots to see and lots of swag to take home. Temperatures soared, and the lake provided cool relief.

Helen chats kayaks with Paul Riek.

Mark catches up with Chris Cunningham.

Even Mr. T made an appearance.

The following days of the show took place in the Salt Palace, and booth after booth displayed next year’s products. It was a real treat to see all of the exciting products that will be hitting the market next year, as well as get a sneak peak at next year’s color and style trends for outdoor apparel. It was also wonderful to catch up with outdoor friends at their booths.

Hanging out at the Tahe booth.

Mark and I spent a full day roaming one aisle after the next, and just when we’d think we’d seen it all we’d find a new hall to stroll into, or even entire sections of rooms that we’d missed.

A couple of “Trees.”

After the show we headed home, a place we hadn’t been for about seven weeks. We spent four days visiting with friends, resting, doing laundry and switching the contents of our travel bags from tour necessities to expedition gear for Greenland. This morning we began the three day journey to east Greenland.

Zegul man makes an appearance at the show. From left, Rauno, Helen and Janek.

Photos by Mark Tozer.

Problems Capsizing

Question: When I do the Butterfly Roll I have a hard time flipping over, as if the paddle being beside the kayak stabilizes it. Getting the paddle to the other side and up to the surface takes almost as much effort as the roll itself. Any suggestions here?

Answer: Difficulty capsizing when doing a Butterfly Roll is a fairly common problem. There are a few things that you can do to make it easier. First, when capsizing, try to enter the water forehead first (as if you were doing a dive and not a belly flop). A diving position (with a rounded spine) will help you to get deeper into the water. Once you reach a certain point, the kayak will automatically capsize completely. If you do get stuck, try jiggling your hips to bring the kayak over. Another thing you can try is holding the paddle next to the kayak and on edge (instead of flat on the surface) to create less buoyancy during the initial capsize. Make sure to hold it close to the kayak instead of allowing it to drift away from it. Flatten the paddle again for the recovery.

Problems with the Balance Brace

Question: My Balance Brace is giving me trouble. It works, but only barely. I end up in the “sweet spot” quite deep, with only my nose above the surface. It’s hard to be relaxed in this position. I try to get my shoulders parallel to the water, apply pressure to my right knee, keep my upper body square to the boat, left arm under the stern and the right arm slightly bent above my head. Was there anything else?

Answer: You seem to have all of the main points. One thing that you might try is to slide your left arm further under the stern of the kayak. If it’s okay on your shoulder, you can slide your arm under the kayak all the way up to your armpit. The other thing that might help is to arch the right side of your lower back (this is for a right-side Balance Brace, vice versa for the left side). You can either think about arching the right side of your back, or lifting the part of your belly that is about two inches to the right of your belly button.

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